Friday, August 23, 2013



The Eclipse Clan is the greatest espionage organization in the galaxy. They are loyal to no one. For the right price, you can obtain their services. Just as a professional interest, they keep tabs on every planet. They have been to Earth. They’ve never invaded. The Clan was only there to gather information to keep their files up to date. I know none of you have ever engaged the services of the Eclipse Clan. Most of you can’t afford them. Some of you tried to stiff them on previous jobs. Big mistake. But that’s no excuse for not conducting your own intelligence work before an attack. You have to have a full picture of the Earth, or any planet and its defense, for before hostilities begin.

What do you know about the Earth? What are the names of its leaders? Who has the biggest military? Who has the most sophisticated weapons? Who has the largest population? Among the world leaders, whose grasp on power is the strongest? Whose is the weakest? Who is willing to drop longstanding hostilities? Who is likely to break an alliance?

Do you know the answers to any of these questions? The Eclipse Clan knows all of this, and a lot more.

How did they do it? Ironically, it’s not a big secret. The Clan uses tried and proven intelligence techniques. This is work anyone can do. It’s just that they do it better than anybody.

The Clan didn’t start off by sending agents to infiltrate the highest office. All those questions I just asked? You don’t need spies to answer any of them. That’s all free intelligence.

First and foremost, the Eclipse Clan keeps its collective eyes and ears open. There are plenty of news reports, public speeches, and press conferences, and loads of information available to the public. The Clan just tuned into Earth’s communications and found the news networks. Then they let their analysts go to work. In just a few days, the Clan files were overflowing with the free information.

The Clan used a combination of AI computers and trained analysts to sift through the data. The AIs handled the volume. But analysis is as much artwork as grunt work. You can program a computer to do all the basics, but gaining the important insights takes talent, and the Clan excels in spotting talent.

Only after the analysis phase did the Clan send agents for ground observation. These agents didn’t assassinate anyone. They didn’t replace a high ranking officer with one of their own. They just posed as everyday humans and looked around. They got the sense of the place. They learned all the things the communications didn’t tell them.

I hear some of you scoffing. What good is all this? How about the traffic patterns in major cities? How about scouting proposed landing sites and main targets? Knowing the ground before a battle is vital, and that’s what the Clan did. In fact, I’d say theirs has been the only successful Earth “invasion.” They did what they came to do, and they got out of there. That’s more than I can say for you.

If you want to emulate the Eclipse Clan – and you should – be prepared to invest a lot more resources. Tapping into personal communications can be tricky, as doing so results in a mountain of data that your analysts have to sift through. That’s a lot of work even if you can afford AIs to help with the load. You need to narrow the parameters, so before you begin, you’d better know what you want to find. And it’s not going to be easy. In the past, the Earthlings didn’t know you were out there. But now it’s highly unlikely they’ll be talking about extraterrestrial defenses on their personal communicators.

How easy is it to pass off as human? I did it. The Clan did it. Several others have done it. For the most part, though, we all just hung around and observed. I didn’t have to talk with too many people. The key is to be subtle. Your agents don’t have to be chatterboxes. Many of them can just be pathfinders and scouts who check on proposed invasion sites. Having eyes on the ground immediately prior to an attack is a huge advantage.

Intelligence gathering doesn’t stop once operations start; that’s when it kicks into hyperdrive. The humans have ditched their formerly simple communications. Their new planetary defense network is designed to communicate in a variety of ways. If one method is compromised, they switch to another. You have to constantly monitor all of them to see which ones are being used by hostile forces. And then you have to break whatever code the humans are using. Even with the most advanced computers, this is a labor-intensive process, and it diverts resources that can otherwise be spent elsewhere.

Again, here’s another argument for taking prisoners. Dead prisoners can’t talk. Do you know where the enemy is located? What his morale and supply situation is like? Here’s your chance to find out. Interrogation and torture aren’t necessary. Usually, just a quick interview is required. A lot of soldiers say they will not talk, but most of them end up saying something, anyway. Just observing their physical well-being can give you vital intel about the force you face. You want them to tell you what they know. Torture, at best, gets the guy to admit something you already know, which isn’t valuable intel.

Even a prisoner’s leavings can give you clues to where he ate his last meal. Though you can leave off the anal probe. You can just wait for him to go.

But there’s a problem. All this effort may be for nothing. It’s something the Eclipse Clan will admit to if you ask. Intelligence – even top quality Eclipse Clan intelligence – is of dubious value. A spy may overhear the enemy commanders talk about a major operation. It may be one hundred percent legitimate. But the enemy can always change his mind.

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